On December 17, 2013, House Education and Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee Chair Todd Rokita (R-IN) sent a letter to Gene Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States at the General Accountability Office (GAO) requesting a report that will delve into various special education paperwork issues. This letter is a direct result of ASHA's advocacy efforts and a critical first step in addressing administrative burdens reported by our school-based members.
Specifically, the GAO has been requested to address the following questions.
- What specific provisions of IDEA provide the most paperwork burden for states, school districts, elementary and secondary schools, administrators, educators, service providers, and parents?
- How do the administrative and paperwork requirements that have evolved since the law's original enactment in 1975 improve educational outcomes for children with disabilities?
- Why have the U.S. Department of Education, states, school districts, and/or schools not utilized the paperwork reduction provisions included in the 2004 reauthorization?
- How has the growth in and use of technology affected the administrative and paperwork burden? How pervasive are "electronic" IEPs and other innovative technologies? To what extent are these technologies interoperable? What can be expected in the future from technology?
- Outside of the privacy protections afforded to students and parents under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, what, if any, administrative conflicts or redundancies exist that may increase the paperwork burden for schools and providers?
A copy of the letter can be found on the Education and the Workforce Committee website [PDF].
Based on input provided on surveys of the ASHA membership, paperwork has continually ranked as the number one challenge to ASHA's school-based members. In 2012, ASHA launched an effort to address this issue. Since then, ASHA has conducted focus groups, surveyed members, conducted targeted interviews with members in positions familiar with the issue, convened a meeting of other groups and individuals who are concerned about special education documentation, and formed a working group of a subset of these groups. The GAO will now seek to respond to specific questions posed by Chairmen Kline and Rokita in their letter. The responses and recommendations from GAO will help guide future advocacy efforts.
For more information, please contact Neil Snyder, ASHA's director of federal advocacy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.